Kiyapili Sibanda, Business Reporter
NEWLY-elected Co-ordination Committee for Development and Promotion of African Handicrafts (Codepa) president, Sithembiso Nyoni, says her first mandate is to create a proper budget for African handcrafters for them to run viable businesses.
Speaking during a press conference at the end of a three-day indaba in Bulawayo on Friday, Cde Nyoni, who is Minister of Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development, said setting up a budget for African handcrafters was the way to go if economies are to derive real value from the sector.
The conference was held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) and attended by representatives from 26 African member states that are spread through the five regions of the continent.
“As Codepa we will be working on a proper budget that is meant for African handcrafters. We want to make sure that they operate in a viable business environment.
“They have a huge role to play in African economies because the sector employs a lot of people and we want their business to grow that is why we are working towards a proper budget for them,” said Nyoni.
She told Business Chronicle that prospects were high that support measures for handcrafters would create more employment opportunities for Africa as a whole.
“The prospects are very high as we have discussed in the ministers’ meeting that handicraft was not taken seriously because some viewed it as not having a great impact. I think through Codepa it has been proven that handicrafts are done by people that are creative and African crafts tell a very big story that we can reckon with.
“What needs to be done now is to link crafts of Africa to global markets in order to make sure that crafts are of high standards, high quality and user friendly. Africa has moved from making ugly wooden crafts to state-of-the-art handicrafts that can challenge in the world markets and this can create employment opportunities,” said Minister Nyoni.
She said her desire was to help empower and create jobs in the sector.
During the meeting, South Africa was elected second vice president of Codepa, which Minister Nyoni said would go a long way in assisting the southern region to grow her economy.Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Applied Art in Craft Association (ZAACA) said they were happy with the event as it helped them market their products and tap other opportunities.
ZAACA is a national organisation which was formed in 2010 and has craft practitioners in all the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe. Its members are involved in all sorts of artistic disciplines such as basketry, tie and dye, jewellery, iron sculpture, wood sculpture, stone sculpture, handmade paper using elephant dung and leather products.